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Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability Essay Contest
December 24, 2019 - April 24, 2020
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What Is “Fundamental”
October 28, 2017 to January 22, 2018
Sponsored by the Fetzer Franklin Fund and The Peter & Patricia Gruber Foundation

Wandering Towards a Goal
How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intention?
December 2, 2016 to March 3, 2017
Contest Partner: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Fund.

Trick or Truth: The Mysterious Connection Between Physics and Mathematics
Contest Partners: Nanotronics Imaging, The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, and The John Templeton Foundation
Media Partner: Scientific American


How Should Humanity Steer the Future?
January 9, 2014 - August 31, 2014
Contest Partners: Jaan Tallinn, The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, The John Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American

It From Bit or Bit From It
March 25 - June 28, 2013
Contest Partners: The Gruber Foundation, J. Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American

Questioning the Foundations
Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?
May 24 - August 31, 2012
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Is Reality Digital or Analog?
November 2010 - February 2011
Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation and Scientific American

What's Ultimately Possible in Physics?
May - October 2009
Contest Partners: Astrid and Bruce McWilliams

The Nature of Time
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Richard Lewis: on 4/12/15 at 11:41am UTC, wrote Dear Anshu, Thank you very much for your comment. To understand the...

Tejinder Singh: on 4/11/15 at 14:45pm UTC, wrote Dear Richard, Thank you for your essay and your thoughts. One point in...

Richard Lewis: on 4/1/15 at 14:45pm UTC, wrote Dear Joe, Thank you so much for your comment on my essay. I tried my best...

Joe Fisher: on 3/31/15 at 15:08pm UTC, wrote Dear Mr. Lewis, I thought that your engrossing essay was exceptionally...

Richard Lewis: on 3/31/15 at 13:40pm UTC, wrote Hello Akinbo, Thank you very much for your comments and for taking the...

Akinbo Ojo: on 2/26/15 at 19:13pm UTC, wrote Hello Richard, I don't know if we have shared correspondence or ideas...

Richard Lewis: on 2/21/15 at 16:14pm UTC, wrote Thank you so much for reading my essay and your very interesting comments....

Richard Lewis: on 2/21/15 at 15:55pm UTC, wrote Dear Alan, I did read your essay and thought it was of a very high...


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Steve Dufourny: "Jonathan, I believe that I have understood all this puzzle . If we consider..." in 16th Marcel Grossmann...

Steve Dufourny: "One of the important solution that I propose for the UN is ecological and..." in Global Collaboration

Amrit Ladhani : "My preprint "The Beginning to the End of the Universe and Eternal..." in Alternative Models of...

Steve Dufourny: "It could be very relevant if FQXi make a kind of essay contest for this..." in Global Collaboration

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The Thermodynamic Limits of Intelligence: Q&A with David Wolpert
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Gambling Against the Second Law
Using precision thermometry to make mini heat engines, that might, momentarily, bust through the thermodynamic limit.

August 12, 2022

CATEGORY: Trick or Truth Essay Contest (2015) [back]
TOPIC: Solving the mystery by Richard Lewis [refresh]
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Author Richard Lewis wrote on Jan. 16, 2015 @ 21:22 GMT
Essay Abstract

The position is taken that the mystery in the connection between physics and mathematics is primarily due to the lack of a complete physical description of reality. To support this proposition we recap the key developments in physics showing how mathematical models and physical theory have been developed in parallel to arrive at the current understanding. The areas where the mathematical equations describing the real world are at their most mysterious are discussed. An alternative view of reality is proposed which is based on the general theory of relativity and the idea that material particles are looped wave disturbances of spacetime. This is used to explain fundamental properties such as mass and charge and resolve the unification of the fundamental forces. The use of mathematics in cosmology is discussed, emphasising the importance of the initial assumptions when using mathematical models. When physics and mathematics are used together it provides a powerful analytical tool. We must remember that when our descriptive model seems over complicated, contrived or highly unlikely it is a signal to go back and challenge our initial assumptions.

Author Bio

Richard Lewis (UK based) completed his first class degree in mathematics at the University of Cambridge in 1967. After working for two years at Marconi he joined the Northern Electric Company in Canada to work on program controlled telephone exchanges. Subsequently he led a team of software engineers working on the first digital switching telephone exchange (SL1) which was introduced in Canada in 1975. The author has always been interested in fundamental ideas in physics and has published papers in Academia (not peer reviewed) titled the Unification of Physics and the Evolution of the Universe.

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Jan. 17, 2015 @ 23:35 GMT
Dear Richard,

Your first statement, that there's something intellectually satisfying in using math models under carefully defined assumptions, is a good start, as this is something probably every reader agrees with. I agree with your idea that some difficulties in application of mathematical models are primarily due to the lack of clear understanding of the physical interpretation of the model. I treat exactly such a case in my current essay, which I invite you to read and comment on. I agree with your follow-on statement that "math is subservient to physics in that math can only be applied once the physics is properly understood", although some would say that the proper use of math may help one to understand the physics.

Your discussion of electron as "looped wave disturbance" is also interesting, with its implied dispersed energy over the loop.

You later state that the Big Bang singularity is a huge violation of conservation of energy. But some believe that the negative energy of the gravitational field may exactly equal the positive energy for a net zero energy, which would represent conservation. Have you considered that possibility?

As is often the case in these essays, I agree with your major points, while we differ on some of the details.

Good luck in the contest,

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Author Richard Lewis replied on Jan. 18, 2015 @ 11:01 GMT
Hello Eugene,

I do agree that the negative energy of the gravitational field will equal the positive energy of the mass/energy of the universe for a net zero total energy. I stated this in a different way in my essay when I said "we have to modify our conservation law to state that the Total Energy must be considered as mass plus energy plus spacetime curvature."

The reason I like the Spacetime Boundary model is that it starts with empty space and there is ample time for the expansion of space to generate (through the negative energy of the gravitational field) the mass/energy of the universe associated with matter. In the Big Bang model the hypothesis is that the mass/energy formed in the singularity so there is no time for the negative energy of the gravitational field to take effect.

So my contention is that the idea of zero total energy argues against the Big Bang model since it allows for the case where the universe (having zero total energy always) evolved from a region of completely empty space, thus avoiding the need for a singularity.

Thank you for your comments on my essay which are much appreciated.

I have read your excellent essay but I need to go back and study it in more detail to get a better understanding.

I will comment in your thread.

With best regards


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John C Hodge replied on Jan. 23, 2015 @ 17:51 GMT
Thanks for your reply.

I posit the most fundamental gravitational mass is called a hod. It sinks the plenum which causes the divergence of a density field to be directed to it. Matter is a combination of hods and plenum. I am currently exploring the interaction and structure of photons and other matter by simulating the double slit experiment. A description of the experiment is in Photon diffraction and interference .

It’ll be a long time before the electron can be modeled. The original thought is my model.

The movement of particles in the plenum produces waves in the plenum referred to in my contest entry. The frequency of these waves produce entanglement that provides the QM effects. My current speculation is that an electron near a large mass (the nucleus) sends waves that travel in the highly sloped plenum well. These then direct the electron. Scalar Theory of Everything model correspondence to the Big Bang model and to Quantum Mechanics

The electron or any matter particle does not have a ``boundry’’.

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John C Hodge wrote on Jan. 20, 2015 @ 20:43 GMT
Richard I have developed a radical Theory of Everything. You bring up several of the points of great interest to me. Links to my papers on these subjects are found at papers .

``Where we get into difficulty in some areas of physics is in the application of mathematical models without a clear understanding of the physical interpretation of the mathematical model. …in that the mathematics...

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Author Richard Lewis replied on Jan. 21, 2015 @ 16:33 GMT
Hello John,

Thank you for reading my essay and providing your comments which are very much appreciated.

We seem to agree on quite a lot and I would therefore like to focus in on the areas where we have a different view of the nature of reality.

Your view of the division between continuous and discrete entities differs from my views in the spacetime wave theory. Your view of matter as discrete with boundaries has to be qualified by recognizing that the discreteness of say the electron is due to the quantum rules which allow only certain energy values. The boundary of the position occupied by the electron cannot be considered as a hard boundary but one in which the dispersed nature of the electron results in a wave dispersion of energy which diminishes with distance.

If we think of a photon as a wave disturbance of spacetime we are in a better position than considering it as a wave disturbance of a plenum or aether as we already have physical theories (General relativity) describing spacetime.

Considering an electron as a looped wave in spacetime in which the disturbance of spacetime travels in a closed loop results in a model which provides solutions to the nature of mass, charge and unifies the fundamental forces.

The discrete nature of the electron is then seen as the requirement for there to be an integer number of wavelengths in the loop. It does not represent a fundamentally different approach between continuous and discrete entities as the electron can be considered as a light wave travelling at speed c in a closed loop.

One of the great benefits of going to a wave based fundamental model is avoiding the problem of particle models which is that if you describe one set of particles (electrons, neutrons, protons) in terms of a more fundamental set of particles (quarks etc) you are still left with the problem of what the more fundamental particles are made of and so on . . .

Thank you again for your comments.


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Sophia Magnusdottir wrote on Jan. 23, 2015 @ 14:51 GMT
Hi Richard:

A nice and very clearly formulated essay that touches on many interesting points. You are arguing for realism, yes?

A note: String theory doesn't imply the existence of 12 dimensions, but 10 (or 11 if you count M-theory), and it's not strictly speaking correct that no experiment can be devised to test it, it's just that such experiments require so high energies that they're not practically feasible (not now and probably not for the next thousand years). In principle though, it is testable.

-- Sophia

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Author Richard Lewis replied on Jan. 24, 2015 @ 14:18 GMT
Hi Sophia,

Thank you for your post and positive comments. In the wikipedia definition of realism it includes Philosophical realism defined as a belief that reality exists independently of observers. Is this what you mean by realism in your post?

The spacetime wave theory does propose a reality that exists independently of observers. Light and matter are described as wave disturbances of spacetime which are real phenomena and progress independently of observation. Of course an observation will disturb the progress of the wave entities but that does not make them any less real.

Thank you for your correction on string theory dimensions. I do feel it would be a worthwhile exercise for string theorists to try to map their multi-dimensional model to a model in which it is not a string (1d) or a membrane (2d) but spacetime itself (3d + time) which is in oscillation. Experience shows that a mathematical model which works can be mapped to an equivalent model with alternative assumptions about physical reality. This would be much more satisfactory as it brings us back to the familiar dimensions of 3 space and 1 time which are known to exist.


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Sujatha Jagannathan wrote on Feb. 16, 2015 @ 09:03 GMT
You've thoroughly posted your work in understandable colloquial terms which makes the analytical thinking process easier!


Miss. Sujatha Jagannathan

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Author Richard Lewis replied on Feb. 16, 2015 @ 11:21 GMT
Dear Sujatha,

Thank you for your kind comments. It is my objective to give a clear physical description of reality which is easily understood in terms of other familiar concepts.

With best regards


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Al Schneider wrote on Feb. 19, 2015 @ 22:05 GMT
Thanks for your comment about my essay you made on my thread. However, after reading yours I get the feeling you did not read mine except for the end and beginning. I will not request that you read mine. However, I wish you would think about one thing. Einstein was not aware of the work of Richard Feynman on QED. That body of information has great impact on general relativity. I explore this relationship in a video on youtube.

Have a nice day.

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Author Richard Lewis replied on Feb. 20, 2015 @ 12:18 GMT
Hello Al,

I did read your essay in full and I thought to story about the roses was brilliant.

My comments on essays tend to be from the conceptual framework of the Spacetime Wave theory so the aspects of the essay which I felt able to usefully comment on were chosen on this basis.

I did view your youtube video but I was not persuaded that QED has a significant bearing on the redshift measurements. What seems important is that the redshift is recognized by noting the absorption lines of hydrogen, helium etc which suggests that all frequencies are redshifted by the same amount.

I also had difficulty with the idea that there would be so many electron interactions on the way from the distant galaxy to our point of observation.

My own view regarding the redshift measurements are that there are two components: namely (1) the actual motion of the galaxy with respect the the CMB rest frame which was imparted when the galaxy formed and also (2) the general expansion of space which is caused by expansion at the boundary.



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basudeba mishra wrote on Feb. 20, 2015 @ 14:39 GMT
Dear Sir,

Your statement: “mathematical equation which seems to give the right answer to some questions but when it is applied to other cases the results are not valid” sums up the problem. Mathematics is the quantitative aspect of Nature. Numbers are a property of natural objects by which we differentiate between similars. If there is nothing similar, it is one. Otherwise it is many,...

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Author Richard Lewis replied on Feb. 21, 2015 @ 16:14 GMT
Thank you so much for reading my essay and your very interesting comments. The history of ideas seems to be filled with people who had ideas ahead of their time.

I am reminded of Aristarchus of Samos who figured out that the sun was at the center of the known universe. He came to this conclusion more than 200 years BC and the view remained unpopular for about 1800 years!

I do think that FXQi is providing a great forum for the exchange of ideas to hopefully stop new ideas from waiting another 1800 years.



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Alan M. Kadin wrote on Feb. 21, 2015 @ 15:16 GMT
Dear Mr. Lewis,

I read your essay with some interest.

You might be interested in my own essay, "Remove the Blinders: How Mathematics Distorted the Development of Quantum Theory". I argue that premature adoption of an abstract mathematical framework prevented consideration of a simple, consistent, realistic model of quantum mechanics, avoiding paradoxes of indeterminacy, entanglement, and non-locality. What’s more, this realistic model is directly testable using little more than Stern-Gerlach magnets.

But questioning the foundations in this way is considered heretical, and is unpublishable in physics journals.

Alan Kadin

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Author Richard Lewis replied on Feb. 21, 2015 @ 15:55 GMT
Dear Alan,

I did read your essay and thought it was of a very high standard and my rating reflected that view.

We seem to be thinking along very similar lines with the emphasis on treating photons, electrons, protons etc as waves.

One difference seems to be in the consideration of the means of transmission of the wave where I put forward the view (in the Spacetime Wave theory) that the wave is moving as a propagating disturbance of spacetime curvature.



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Akinbo Ojo wrote on Feb. 26, 2015 @ 19:13 GMT
Hello Richard,

I don't know if we have shared correspondence or ideas before but a number of the views expressed in your essay resonate well with me.

First the areas of similarity of views: light and gravitational waves (if they exist) must share similar means of propagation; the idea that the total energy of the universe can equate to zero and that the mass of the universe is increasing with its radius; the idea that space can have substance-like properties, which make you say it can be compressed and expand (I prefer to use annihilated and created since the former would imply changes in density. Check up on the Alcubierre drive which I referenced in my essay).

Then area of disagreement: The Michelson Morley experiment showed that the speed of light did not vary in different directions through the apparatus even when the experiment was changed in orientation relative to the movement of the earth through space and at different times of the year. Yes. But are you aware that when the light source is not earth-bound but more distant, e.g. pulsar light or even lunar laser ranging, the movement of the earth can hasten or delay light arrival times depending on whether the earth was moving away or towards the incoming light? You can check up on this.

Finally, since you say, "objects can be moved further apart because of the effect on compression/expansion of space" give a thought to the possibility that this may provide a mechanism for action-at-a-distance which you mentioned in the early part of your essay.

All the best in the competition.



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Author Richard Lewis replied on Mar. 31, 2015 @ 13:40 GMT
Hello Akinbo,

Thank you very much for your comments and for taking the time to look at my essay.

I would like to comment on your post and clarify some concepts and terminology.

I prefer not to think of space as having substance-like properties. This is too much like the idea of the luminiferous ether. Instead I prefer to think of spacetime itself as being able to support wave propagation by a wave variation in spacetime curvature propagating at speed c.

Despite your point about the arrival time of light from distant sources, I feel confident that, if we were to measure the speed of light from this distant source we would find its value to be the standard speed of light as long as the speed of the source relative to our point of observation is a constant value.

My point in the essay about the operation of the electrostatic force is to show that it is not an 'action at a distance' with no underlying cause. Instead, I take the view that the force of repulsion between two electrons arises due to the energy difference between possible positions of the electron which is affected by the electric charge which is itself explained as a wave variation in the time dimension accompanying the wave disturbance in the space dimensions.



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Joe Fisher wrote on Mar. 31, 2015 @ 15:08 GMT
Dear Mr. Lewis,

I thought that your engrossing essay was exceptionally well written and I do hope that it fares well in the competition.

I think Newton was wrong about abstract gravity; Einstein was wrong about abstract space/time, and Hawking was wrong about the explosive capability of NOTHING.

All I ask is that you give my essay WHY THE REAL UNIVERSE IS NOT MATHEMATICAL a fair reading and that you allow me to answer any objections you may leave in my comment box about it.

Joe Fisher

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Author Richard Lewis replied on Apr. 1, 2015 @ 14:45 GMT
Dear Joe,

Thank you so much for your comment on my essay. I tried my best to explain my ideas but it is only when I get feedback such as yours that I feel understood.

I think people tend to rate my essay very much on the basis of whether or not they agree with the Spacetime Wave theory and the Spacetime Boundary model of the universe.

In your comment about Newton, Einstein and Hawking, I am not sure that I fully understand your use of the term abstract in this context.

I would put it this way: The mathematical model that Newton devised was very nearly correct but he had great reservations about the idea of 'action at a distance' which his theory implied.

Einstein was absolutely right in his conception of gravity as being due to spacetime curvature and his mathematical model proved to be accurate in all cases.

I would say that the universe could not form from NOTHING but that matter can form from the expansion of empty space. The conservation of Total Energy which is Mass + Energy + Spacetime Curvature replaces previous energy conservation laws. The Total Energy of the universe is zero. Matter formation occurs to balance the Total Energy equation when spacetime expands due to expansion at the boundary.

See also my comments on your essay thread.



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Member Tejinder Pal Singh wrote on Apr. 11, 2015 @ 14:45 GMT
Dear Richard,

Thank you for your essay and your thoughts. One point in particular caught our attention. You propose relating electrons as matter sources to space-time curvature, using equations of general relativity [GR]. There we would be confronted by a tricky issue, isn't it? Namely that electrons are quantum mechanical, whereas matter sources in GR are classical. We do not really know for sure how to find out the gravitational field produced by quantum matter - it leads us to the unresolved problem of quantum gravity. Of course it will be wonderful if you have some ideas there.

Kind regards,

Anshu, Tejinder

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Author Richard Lewis replied on Apr. 12, 2015 @ 11:41 GMT
Dear Anshu,

Thank you very much for your comment. To understand the resolution to this issue you have to see that the concepts within the Spacetime Wave theory mean that there is no longer a need to make a distinction between quantum mechanical and classical behaviour.

These labels are no longer helpful.

When you say that electrons are quantum mechanical that means that you...

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